The word that’s translated as “Apostle” in the New Testament literally means, “Sent One.” The Greek English Lexicon gives this definition. “…a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.” 1 When we hear the word “Apostle” we normally think of the twelve men appointed by Jesus to go out and spread the message of the good news. Indeed they were men sent out with orders. But there is also reference to lower case “apostles” in the New Testament which seems to refer to those sent out on missionary journeys from various churches in the Apostolic age. Some groups today call their missionaries “apostles” today with the idea that any who is sent out to share their faith is also rightly called an “apostle.” We don’t usually think of Jesus himself being an apostle, but that’s what he is called in Hebrews 3:1-2. It says, “Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house.” We see that Jesus was “sent out” from the “one who appointed him” for a particular mission. Moses was the one that God sent to Pharoah with a mission to set the Israelites from from captivity and just as he was faithful to that mission so too was Jesus faithful to his calling to be the sin bearer of the world. 1 John 4:1 makes this perfectly clear. John writes, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” So, Jesus is an “Apostle” in the true meaning of the word.

According to another Greek Dictionary the word includes the idea of “Ambassador.” Liddell’s entry for the word is, “ἀπόστολος, , (ἀποστέλλω) a messenger, ambassador, envoy…”2 Regarding this title Charles Rolls says, “Christ as the Apostle was specially called and commissioned by the Father as heaven’s ambassador to earth. He represents the Father perfectly and heaven in reality. The Father placed in Him absolute confidence and sanctioned full exercise of authority to fulfill the divine purposes, confirm the promises and execute the prerogatives.”3 In the handbook that the United Bible Society published to help Bible Translators, we read, “Some of the meaning of the Greek term traditionally rendered “apostle” may be expressed as “God’s messenger” or “God’s ambassador.” In some languages this is expressed literally as “one who speaks God’s words” or “one who announces what God has said.”4 Now, going back to the passage in Hebrews 3:1-2, the writer exhorts his readers to “consider.” Without adding a new group of footnotes here, this Greek verb means, “To think carefully” about something; to “reflect on” the ideas, to “meditate” on this truth.

Since the writer of this verse includes Moses let me give you something to contemplate. Moses was God’s Ambassador to Pharoah. He came with God’s authority and message. When we reflect on the Old Testament we are amiss if we fail to understand it’s message as it relates to Jesus himself. In Exodus 7:1, “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh…” Yes, Moses was like God, he spoke for God, he exercised God’s power through the 10 plagues and more but the author of Hebrews will later make it perfectly clear that Moses, the greatest figure in Israel’s history, does not have the same authority that was given to Jesus! Hebrews 3:4 goes on in our passage and says, “For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.” There may be a lot of lower case “apostles” who are sent out for a mission. There were 12 upper case “Apostle” who were sent out specifically by Jesus. But there is only one “Apostle” like Jesus. Whereas Moses spoke for God, Jesus spoke as God. One more quote (sorry). Guthrie says in his commentary, “To look at a beautiful, artfully crafted building may inspire appreciation or wonder, but praise belongs to the craftsman rather than the craft. In this case the author of Hebrews considers Moses as part of the house that Jesus built. The inference to which the analogy points is that Jesus, as God, has made Moses, a member of the people of Israel, and as Creator is worthy of more honor and glory than one of his creatures. Thus, the author continues to point to Jesus as God.”5

1 Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm’s Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti (New York: Harper & Brothers., 1889), 68.

2H.G. Liddell, A Lexicon: Abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996), 107.

3 Charles J. Rolls, The Indescribable Christ: Names and Titles of Jesus Christ: A-G (Loizeaux Brothers, 1984).

4 Paul Ellingworth and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on the Letter to the Hebrews, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 52.

5 George Guthrie, Hebrews, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1998), 128.